Titles Tropes – Verbed

Single word titles are timeless, uncomplicated and to the point. Somehow, within the confines of one word titles trends exist. One of these is especially popular in YA, Verbed.

A small selection, I assure you.

A small selection, I assure you. Click for larger view.

Verbed is where you take any random word and add –ed. Maybe it makes sense, a la Haunted or Twisted. Maybe it mostly doesn’t – see Amped and Starkissed (definitely both words, but what does it mean to be ‘amped’?? I’m guessing like pumped up? I’m learning).

The Verbed title wants to answer the question, “what’s up with this story?” “Oh, it’s Scarred. Or Twisted. Haunted.” What have you. It’s straight up, direct and tries to lend that straight up directness to the rest of the story. Want to be edgy? In the know? Verbed is right for you. But act fast, interesting words to add -ed to are running out. All the cool words have been taken and we’re left with scraps. Hmm, “Scrapped?” The -ed adds gravitas, people.

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Introducing: Title Tropes!

I am going to run a little series here about Title Tropes – AKA, common themes in book titles. This is mostly an excuse for me to procrastinate, like my upcoming series on book covers, but it’s fun so I’m doing it anyway.

Book titles, coupled with book covers, are the biggest first impression a book can give you. Bigger than the blurb, sales numbers, or praise by some famous author on the cover. Like book covers, we associate different things with different kinds of titles. Let’s perform an experiment. A book called “The Crimson Falcon’s Agenda” calls up a lot of associations.

You'll find out how much I enjoy making book covers. More so than writing books, actually.

You’ll find out how much I enjoy making book covers. More so than writing books, actually.

On which book cover does the title seem most at home? I attempted to throw in a few different genres here, Literary fiction, Mystery/Thriller, YA, “Contemporary” fiction, and stereotypical Chick Lit. I designed these covers to match stereotypes of their genre’s – Ive got the author’s name bigger than the title of the book for my mystery/thriller, a Pretty Dress on my YA, handwritten text and pastel graphics for my chick lit. (I love making book covers and I love these covers even though they have nothing to do with what I write.

Maybe you can technically justify that any kind of book can have any kind of name – it’s the plot and writing that count! Design means nothing! – but I have been distracted by odd title choices in the past. It’s peril if a reader can’t recognize what kind of book yours is when they first see it.

The faux title “The Crimson Falcon’s Agenda” is in itself just a trope, an example of the popular “The (adjective) (noun)’s (noun)” that you see often in mystery/thriller. Tropes and trends are everywhere and one you see two or three titles with similar structure you start to build associations. So the fourth time you see that familiar structure, you will have a precreated set of expectations for that book. As a writer, this is the kind of thing that can screw you over or be used to your advantage. Think critically not only about how much you personally like the title, but what people reading it for the first time might think about it.

So Title Tropes is going to be where I assemble tropes and trends I see in book titles. It’s going to be fun, I promise.